A birthday SOTC

Yes, it’s my birthday today, so it seemed like a good reason to post about my current collection, as it won’t be changing now for some time, if at all.

The moonphase collection

Yes, it’s a rather pointless complication – I realise that. However, for some reason I love them, and these two are so different in terms of style and approach that I think they offer variety whilst being conceptually similar. The Glashutte Original is of course a Perpetual Calendar so in terms of horological craftsmanship alone it’s worthy of admiration; aside from that, it’s Teutonic magnificence is there for all to see… wonderfully finished movement, meticulous design of dial and overall build quality that’s up there with the very best of them. The JLC MUT Moon (this is the 39mm model) is altogether different in both look and feel, and somehow seems to marry the traditional and the modern in one gorgeous package. Oh, and the movement is a mere 4.9mm thick – amazing really, considering it provides a moonphase complication within a watch that’s so light you barely know you’re wearing it.

I do love both of these watches, and wear them a fair bit (albeit less than any of the others, I have to say).

The vintage collection

I’ve been on something of a journey with regard to vintage Rolex, and am lucky enough to have owned some wonderful watches that have included a McQueen Explorer, a red Submariner and a couple of Great Whites. I’ve also enjoyed sixties vintage 5513s and 1675s but all of these were moved on before I settled on the two I’ll now keep; a 1981 5513 and a 1983 16750. Both of these watches are supreme examples, with wonderfully fat cases and beautifully-aged dials and hands; they’re also (deliberately) both of an age where they’re still pretty robust and don’t have to be babied too much. In retrospect, this seems to have been important in my decision-making process and the consequence is that I just enjoy wearing them (a lot) and don’t have to worry about their delicacy. I also much prefer the 16750, with its quick-set date, to the earlier 1675… it shares all the vintage charms of its older brother without the disadvantage of the date change mechanism (or lack of).

The other vintage piece is an old Tuna 7549-7010 from 1978. I absolutely love Tunas but there’s a real difference between old and new, and I realised having sold one of these before that I really do enjoy owning and wearing them. The replacement I picked up recently is a wonderful example, too.

The “smart/casual” collection

Now, these two took a great deal of thought, as they could easily have morphed into a PP Aquanaut; in fact, the decision was all but made and the Aquanaut I ordered came into stock at Boodles about a week ago. In the event, though, two things happened. Firstly, I realised that the PAM 337 – a 42mm model with all the characteristics of the classic Panerai – really is a fantastic watch; it can be dressed up or down, is very slim in addition to it’s other sensible dimensions, and is an absolute pleasure to wear. Secondly, I was offered a NIB Daytona at the precise moment that a long-drawn out deal for another one finally failed to materialise. I couldn’t quite justify (effectively) trading these two for the Aquanaut, but I’ll be honest and say that it’s still a possibility for the future.

I’ll take some time (by which I mean months) before determining once and for all whether or not I go down that route, though, as a wrong decision could be quite costly and I find both of these watches fit the same bill as the PP… consummately smart, beautifully casual and wonderfully adaptable.

And the beater!

Well, it’s not really a beater, to be honest. What it is, though, is a brute of a watch that – for the money – is near unbeatable in its class. The U1 is a bit marmite in that the hands tend to polarise opinion, but the build quality is unarguable as is the distinctive style that sets it apart from other divers. I find it a tad heavy on it’s bracelet, but on a Zulu (and I have five different colours for it) it comes into it’s own. Is there a more perfect weekend/holiday watch?

So, there you have it then… eight watches rather than the six I really wanted to settle on, but for now and the immediate future I’m perfectly content.

There – I’ve said it!

Well, I did say a while back that once I’d managed to pick up an Aquanaut I’d be done with messing about with my collection and would take something of a back seat in terms of watch forums generally, and buying & selling specifically. In fact, I set my sights on a 6-watch collection, with the Aquanaut replacing my lovely PAM337 as the final piece in my little jigsaw. Funny, isn’t it, how things never seem to go to plan?

So, not long after selling my white gold Daytona (one watch that I really did wish I’d hung on to) I provisionally agreed to buy a SS version from a member of TZ-UK who’s based just outside the EU VAT zone. We discussed various options regarding transit and delivery, and agreed to wait for a suitable visit by either he himself or a member of his family, at which point we’d complete the deal. Anyway, to cut a long story short the whole thing was forgotten after my horrible start to the year; until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when I fired off an email only to find he was actually in the UK (Daytona-less) at the time. It was becoming quite clear that the watch gods were not smiling on us, and I somewhat reluctantly agreed to accept that – on this occasion – it wasn’t going to happen.

Now, here’s the funny thing… almost immediately we agreed to call it a day, I was handed an opportunity to buy another white dialled SS Daytona, completely unworn and still fully stickered even though it was bought in 2012. This one was in London, and I was faced with a very clear choice – keep the 337, add the Daytona and call it a day; or pass on the Daytona, sell the 337 and go for the PP. Either way, it was going to be my final buying and/or selling activity for the foreseeable future, and after a great deal of thought I made a decision. I think it was the right one, but really, who knows? What I do know is that they’re only watches, so I won’t be losing any sleep over it.

Just a word about why I like the Daytona so much, by the way. Yes, it has heritage aplenty, and yes, it has a truly wonderful movement… probably one of the best chronograph movements ever made, in fact. It’s also a fantastically adaptable watch that can be dressed up or down, and worn with a DJ or a pair of jeans. All of that aside, though, I sometimes fancy a bit of bling, and want my watch to feel like jewellery as well as a timepiece.

There – I’ve said it 🙂

Who’d ‘a thunk it?

I’ve spent a small fortune on aged, faded inserts to try to give my vintage watches the appearance that I like. The other day, though, I popped onto the VRF just before turning in for the night and the first post in the market was a listing for a NOS 1675/0 medium font insert. It looked perfect, and bearing in mind it was period correct for my watch I thought I’d give it a whirl for a slightly different look. (Fortunately, GMT inserts don’t command the ridiculous prices of those for the old Subs, and this one was a very fair €130 delivered from Germany).

It’s certainly different, and to my mind it’s bloody gorgeous.

Well, it seems that I CAN do it…

Not long ago I asked, rhetorically, whether or not I could reduce to five or six watches. (Well, I said five, but as every good WIS knows there’s always room for an additional beater 🙂 ). The answer, it appears, is “yes” – the mini-cull is now complete and aside from making a decision on whether the PAM337 gets replaced by an Aquanaut I’m finished with buying and selling. In fact, before today it was definitely going to be the Aquanaut, but the truth is that these 42mm Radiomirs are so sublime on the wrist that I may just put that acquisition on a very long hold.

Anyway, this is what I have left, and it’s what I’m staying with. The only changes from the original plan are that I’ve kept the JLC MUT Moon instead of the Speedy (some will say I’m mad, but others will agree with the choice made).

In fairness, I’ve also kept a more recently acquired Sinn U1. It’s such a fantastic watch for the money, and it’s also the best everyday watch that I’ve owned and perfect for use on holidays, both on the Bach and in the pool. It’s just not worth selling it, frankly.

Pan Am didn’t know what they started

In all, there have been 7 variants of the GMT Master, and it all started with the 6542 (made famous by Pussy Galore in my favourite of the “old” bond movies) which was developed for Pan Am as a true aviator watch. I think I’ve had four different models so far, but this has to be the best of them; all the vintage loveliness of the much-vaunted 1675 but with a higher beat movement and quick-set date.

The 16750 was produced from 1981-1988, but only the earlier models had a matt dial. The gloss dial with white gold indices is still a lovely watch… just not quite as lovely.

Can I do it?

I was chatting to a watch-collecting friend over a pint or two on Sunday evening, and was trying to articulate how recent life-changing events have made me look differently at this hobby, and the excesses it encourages. Right now, I feel (for want of a better word) guilty for the time and money I spend on what are, essentially, trinkets and I was suggesting that I may just keep four or five and then push the whole WIS thing to the background. Focus on more meaningful things.

Anyway, I initially suggested that I’d just keep a few new pieces and do away with anything vintage as it would theoretically be a lot less hassle (well, no hassle at all). However, Howard made the logical argument that the vintage pieces – especially those I’m lucky enough to own – are the ones that would be the hardest to replace with similar quality examples. I’ve thought about that, and have decided that he’s right; in fact, I now know the five watches that are my keepers and, consequently, I understand the task ahead. Here they are, and wish me luck… I’ve given myself until the end of the year to get down to these and then kiss the whole “flipping” merry-go-round goodbye.

Oh, and if anyone actually reads this nonsense feel free to share your view via the comments function!

Those I miss…

For one reason or another – actually, for very personal reasons if truth be told – I was thinking about those few watches (of the many that I’ve sold) that I genuinely miss. Some have been replaced with like for like so don’t figure in this post, but the others of that ilk still leave me feeling like something of a fool for letting them go… because you just don’t see them often; they were superb examples and would therefore be very hard to replace; or because to replace them would cost me a whole lot more than I received for mine. (Or any combination thereof!)

Anyway, here they are, in no particular order…

Edit: this has now been replaced, so it can be moved to the No Longer Missed list 🙂

Full circle!

In many ways, my horological journey has been a strangely circular one. Whilst I’ve had a healthy interest in watches for far longer, the catalyst for the collecting madness that became the basis for this blog was the acquisition of a modern Submariner a few years ago. At the time, I thought I was just buying a watch… what I didn’t know was that my quest for information and knowledge regarding it’s history and heritage would lead to me to register with a number of watch forums; and that, in doing so, I would be opening the door to the candy store.

That Submariner – a classic 16610 – was the first of many watches that bore the Rolex logo, but over time my interest switched to vintage, and to be fair that’s where it remains in many ways. However, some (embarrassing number of) watches later and once again I have a modern Submariner on my wrist. This time, however, I’ve succumbed to the force of change because – finally, and after many, many months of yearning – it’s the maxi-cased 116610LV. The Hulk.

Now, as a traditionalist when it comes to watches it’s taken me quite some time to get to this point. Initially I regarded the dimensions of the case (well, the lugs) as almost comical but over time I’ve realised that the response was more one of intransigence than dislike. I’ll admit that it took me a day or so to get used to the size and heft, but it’s not unlike buying a new television that’s a little larger than the last; when you set it up the immediate response is “My god, it’s huge” but a day or so later and it feels like you could almost have gone for something even bigger. Even the vague feelings of discomfort disappeared very quickly, and after 48 hours or so of constant wear I still don’t want to take it off.

The dial is nothing short of mesmerising. As it catches the light at different angles, the starburst finish changes from a bold green to near-black, never looking the same as the last time you glanced at it. It’s one of those watches that I find myself gazing at for no reason, just because… well, it’s beautiful. As for the bracelet, there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s a massive improvement on the older models. The Glidelock mechanism makes adjustment instant and simple, and the clasp itself is reassuringly substantial.

All in all, I’m overwhelmingly delighted. It’s nice, too, to have a new AD-supplied watch and to be the first to wear it (and bizarrely this is the second in less than a month that fits that description). There’s no lessening of my love for vintage, but what has become patently obvious is that there’s more than enough room for both. Well, not in the box, but that’s another story…

End of year SOTC

Well, it’s that time again… coming up to Christmas, the festive spirit is mostly in the fridge right now and a quick look back over the year is appropriate.

I posted a an SOTC this time last year, at which time I had 13 watches with an emphasis on vintage Rolex (and there were some beauties!). This year I tried to get the numbers down a bit, and I succeeded for a while… I seem to have gone back up to 12 again, though, which is yet further evidence of my non-existent will-power. Anyway, as I did last year I still have vintage Rolex and Autavia GMTs; a nice old 5513; a fugly Tuna; a dressy and complicated JLC and GO; and a variety of other things to give me plenty of options. Too many options really, but I may as well just enjoy them all while I can and stop worrying about it.

I’ll take the opportunity to wish everyone well over the holidays too. It’ll be a quiet one for me as my other half is away with her family, but at least I can watch all the horror movies I want to watch for a couple of weeks 🙂



Its been a while…

The last GMT I had was the beautiful PCG from 1963 that I let go in a very ill-advised trade. Prior to that I’d had a GMTIIC and a 16710 from the late nineties, and I have to say that it’s a watch that I like to have in my collection.

I’ve actually yearned for a nice matt-dialled example since letting the last one go. I didn’t really fancy another 1675 as the lack of a quickset date is a major pain, and that left only the first couple of years of the 16750 to go for. (The newer references – starting with the 16760, or Fat Lady, in 1983 – benefitted from an independently adjustable hour hand, thus giving them true GMT functionality. Up until then, though, and including the 16750, the second time zone could only be utilised through bezel adjustment; whilst the 24-hour hand simply mirrored the time shown by the hour and minute hands. Mind you, even that was better than the McQueen!)

The 16750 is a model that was produced from 1981 to 1988, and it introduced the new cal. 3075 movement with a different order for the hand stack and – importantly – a properly quicksetting date; by which I mean, not a semi-quickset achieved via an hour hand that moved in one-hour increments, but quickset date changing through the crown operation. The matt dials were only fitted for a couple of years, so they’re genuinely quite rare in comparison to the gloss dial with WGS indices. The earlier production runs of the gloss dials also had what’s known as the no-date dial (i.e. the word “Date” wasn’t printed on the dial) but this applied to all the matt dials as well.

Despite looking regularly for the right watch over a period of months, I was finding it pretty hard to find anything in the right condition and at the right price. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw that a TZ member had listed just the thing (dating from 1983, and with gorgeous dial & hands and nice fat lugs) and I was frantically PMing him within seconds of having had sight of the listing. It turns out that the watch was previously owned by someone I know and who’s even more fussy than I am (and I’m quite fussy), so I was pretty sure it would be a good watch! It arrived yesterday, and after being somewhat frustrated looking at the package on my desk for a couple of hours I sneaked off to the loo, unpacked it and popped it on my wrist. (The activity in the cubicles either side of mine was a bit disconcerting, but needs must.)

I’ve gone from 1960’s vintages of both GMT and 5513 to 1980’s versions of both, not really meaning to but subconsciously gravitating towards watches that are slightly more robust and wearable. I have to admit that I’m over the moon with this one – it’s as nice a GMT from this era as I’ve ever seen and a perfect partner for my 5513 of similar age.

Just a couple of photos, showing that lovely dial and faded fat font insert…

Heuerville

I’ve bought quite a few DB10s in the past, but last week bought my first Heuerville… a distressed black saddle leather in 20mm that was intended for my Autavia GMT. Stewart had warned me that it was tough to get it on an Autavia due to the thickness, and he wasn’t kidding. In fact I gave up after a few minutes as I didn’t want to risk marking the case.

Anyway, I had a bit of a think and came up with an alternative use for it. It looks great, I think (I know, it’s too dark to see exactly what it looks like ;)).

Thunderbirds are go!

A few years ago, I seemed to be spending half my time on planes as I managed a series of projects across Europe. Anyone who flies regularly on business will know what a pain in the backside it can be, but I took solace from the fact that I could ogle watches in places like Geneva and Munich (airports, I mean) and occasionally play spot-the-watch on the flights themselves. Anyway, on the second leg of a flight to Ljubljana – that’s in Slovenia, by the way – one day a pretty smart businessman sat next to me and proceeded to read the paper. I couldn’t help but notice his watch, which was a steel and rose gold Datejust Turn-O-Graph with white dial and jubilee bracelet and, from that moment, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for one. I think they’re beautiful.

The Turn-O-Graph/Thunderbird was first introduced in 1953 and gained its moniker for being the watch provided to the Thunderbird aeronautics squadron of the US Air Force. It’s always received a mixed response as, with its rotating fluted bezel, it’s not quite a dress watch and not quite a sports watch (which is actually precisely what I like about it). That said, there was a host of iterations prior to the current datejust version and some of the vintage models are highly sought-after. Personally, I’ve never liked the older references but that’s not to say that I can’t appreciate them for what they were/are.

So, not long ago I received a heads-up from a member on TZ regarding a Rolex (and other) dealership in Malaga that was having a bit of a clear-out. Fast forward to today, and I received the first watch I’ve bought new from an AD for some time, and the watch I’ve been hankering for since that flight I mentioned earlier. It’s a reference 116264, in stainless steel and white gold. the dial is the blue that Rolex does so well, and there’s more than a hint of red (in the second hand, the model name and the date wheel) that gives it an extra touch of vibrancy. I love the blue with red accents, and the dial changes quite dramatically depending on the way that the light hits it. The photos below show that quite well, I think.

I’m very pleased with it!

SOTC – 28/10/13

A couple of people asked me to post an up to date SOTC recently, so here it is – no changes of late and I won’t be selling any of these any time soon. I quite like the mix of modern and vintage, and there are quite a few different styles and complications in there. I must say that I’m particularly fond of the 806 (which needs a new strap) and the 5513, although I wear all of them regularly and get a lot of pleasure from each of them.

I had 17 watches not that long ago and am much more comfortable with a smaller and more manageable collection (that said, I do have a little package on the way). Anyway, I hope you like the pack-shot